Nepal Police arrested Madheshi rights activist Dr. C.K. Raut from his house on 2nd February, 2017. A press release by Dr. C.K. Raut’s office states, “On Thursday, Nepal police illegally arrested Madheshi activist Dr. Chandra Kant Raut from his rented home at Janakpurdham-4, Macha Bazar of Danusha district. More than one dozen police have broken gate lock and harassed his wife along kids before arresting him. Nepali state has yet again shown its racist color by arresting Dr Raut from Janakpur in an undemocratic manner. Government of Nepal is violating Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article-19 continuously.”
Dr. C.K. Raut was previously charged with treason and sedition in the Supreme Court, and the court found those charges baseless and released him. He has been advocating for freedom of Madhesh through peaceful and non-violent means and is affiliated to the Alliance for Independent Madhesh (AIM). Despite no evidence of him being involved or promoting any violent activity in Nepal, Dr. Raut has been targeted by Nepal Government & police repeatedly. Supreme Court Advocate Dipendra Jha said that this arrest is unconstitutional as Dr. Raut has already been resolved from the charges of treason and sedition by the Supreme Court.
This unwarranted arrest comes after Dr. Raut addressed a large gathering of Madhesi people on 18 January 2017 at Lahan, Siraha, Nepal on the occasion of Martyr’s day. Unsettled by his growing popularity and presence of a large mass in the gathering, some ultra-nationalist elements have been targeting Dr. Raut for his activities for the rights of Madhes. Dr. Raut had hoodwinked Nepal Police to arrive at the gathering in Lahan, Siraha. A source confided that Nepal Police had earlier planned to arrest Dr. Raut and prevent him from addressing the meeting. But Dr. Raut managed to reach the venue and address the gathering. This upset some people in the establishment and put pressure on Nepal Police to react. His supporters say that this arrest is a case of political vendetta. The supporters of Dr. Raut claim that this arrest is a ploy to sabotage a public gathering planned by Dr. Raut in western Madhes. Others allege that this is a distraction to dissolve the agenda of constitution amendment under the tutelage of a new political alliance which is creating its ground to push for election.
After the constitution was promulgated on 20th September 2015, a mass protest ensued in the southern plains of Nepal, colloquially known as Madhes. The Madhesis along with Tharus and Janajati (the minorities of Nepal) protested against the new constitution. Nepal is a multi-ethnic country but the establishment has been dominated by one particular ethnic group. Other ethnic groups have been struggling for inclusion and state-restructure to gain access to governance. But the old-school politicians have discarded this aspirations of other ethnic group and imposed a constitution which has been outright rejected by other ethnicity. The constitution has been written in such a way that it guards the status quo and does not guarantee the previous agreements with the Madhesis in previous revolution in 2007 and 2008. Despite their genuine grievances, the permanent establishment of Nepal heeded no ears and tried to muzzle the protest after the promulgation of constitution in 2015. This resulted in a new revolution in Madhes which lasted for more than six months. The state response was brutal force and it ended with around 60 people, mostly Madhesis. This brewing discontent has translated towards growing popularity of Dr. CK Raut. Disillusioned by the conventional Madhesi politicians and the apathy of Kathmandu even after three revolutions within a decade, Madheshi diaspora has been trying to look upto Dr. Raut as their new leader. If the genuine demands of Madheshi diaspora is ignored, Madheshi diaspora is left with no other option.
Nepal is a signatory of United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which ensures the rights of freedom of speech, movement, peaceful assembly and association as the fundamental rights of all human beings everywhere. The press release further appealed, “We also appeal to all the state and non-state agencies, human-rights organizations, journalists, political parties, diplomats and international communities to oppose any violation of human rights by the state and its agencies.”
Nepali establishment should realize that without addressing the genuine grievances of various ethnicity there cannot be a way ahead. Unless the political aspirations of the various ethnicity are addressed, it will inevitably lead to a serious conflict in Nepal.
The official press release of Dr. Raut can be read here.
The interview of CK Lal explaining the demands of Madheshis can be read here.
The achievements of Madhesh Andolan can be read here.
Further commemoration of a decade of Madhesh Andolan can be read here.